Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lightening up a mousse in the calorie department...

We have quite a few cookbooks, but I don't have nearly as many as I would like. I enjoy heading over to the library and browsing through their selection to see if they have any that I've been wanting. I'll either check them out or sit down with a basket full of them and start browsing to see if it either grabs my attention or I'm able to mark at least a few recipes to make it worth it. I noticed a recipe for Strawberry Mousse in one of those books I was looking through and after I made it today, I've already ordered the book from Amazon!

A mess of strawberries are pureed and poured into a saucepan to gently simmer until they reduce and intensify their glorious sweet flavor. To take their flavor up a level, fresh lemon juice and a dash of Kirsch (cherry brandy) are stirred into the slightly thick ruby mixture. Now, because this mousse is from a "lighter" book on dessert, there are a couple tricks used to get that familiar luscious, creamy texture, without the guilt!

To help add some support to the bright berry puree, yet not so much that you feel like you are eating Jell-O, a little melted gelatin is added to the mixture. To achieve a similar (but not quite the same) richness you get with cream, ricotta cheese is also added and the whole shebang goes into a food processor to smooth out and completely combine. A heated meringue is then prepared and gently folded in to give the mousse its light and very airy finished texture. While the egg whites are heated, they are not completely cooked - if you worry about this, you could certainly use pasteurized eggs to remove the concern. Transformed from a ruby red to a pale pink in color when combined, roughly half of the amount is divided between a few dessert glasses - for a fun surprise, sliced fresh strawberries are then placed on top and then covered up by the remaining berry mousse.

The assembled desserts are then covered and chilled until you are ready for them, making for a perfect make-ahead treat. Right before serving, additional sliced fresh strawberries are placed on top. After being chilled, the mousse ever-so-slightly firms up from the gelatin, however it remains very creamy and spoons out of the glass like a dream. Summer better not be too far away as I can't wait to go out and pick my own berries to make this dessert even more special.

Now, before we devoured that tasty mousse above, we were busy enjoying the Farfalle with Turkey Sausage, Leeks, and Broccoli Rabe I made for dinner tonight. You'll need about 1 bunch of broccoli rabe for this recipe - if you've never used or spotted this bitter vegetable before, you may also find it labeled as rapini in your market.

Once you have cleaned and chopped the greens, they are plunged into boiling water for a minute or two to allow some of the bitterness to leach out of the them. As soon as they start to wilt, they are shocked with cold water to stop the cooking process. You have a couple options to cook the bow ties for this dish - I went ahead and just dropped the pasta into the same liquid as we cooked the broccoli rabe. However, if you are nervous about any of that slight bitterness infusing into your pasta, you could dirty another pot to do this - neither of us found that it changed the flavor much though.

To softened leeks, a bit of crushed red pepper and a couple thinly sliced cloves of garlic are added. As soon as the garlic took on a light golden hue, a pound of lean hot Italian turkey sausage is added and crumbled as it cooked. To help ensure it doesn't dry out at all, a bit of the cooking liquid from the pasta/veggie liquid is added to the sausage mixture after it had a chance to brown. The cooled broccoli rabe, cooked pasta and just a touch of fresh lemon zest are stirred into the pan and allowed to warm back up. Ricotta cheese and a couple ounces of fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano are added to the full skillet for a creamy and sharp finish. While I'm finally starting to love the pungency of broccoli rabe, the slight bitter flavor remaining was balanced by the mildly sweet leeks and hearty sausage.


  1. It looks delicious! I made a light raspberry mousse today with tofu. You could not tell that there wasn't cream in it.

  2. Lisa - I love raspberries! I bet that was a tasty treat.

  3. The mousse looks great, Joe. Your blog is on my Top 10 list. How did Chow not include you in theirs?

  4. Mousse with Kirsch, yum. Looks divine.

  5. What a fantastic summer treat. I love the colour. :-)

  6. oohh, I like the mousse, looks really good!!

  7. H&E - Thanks for including us on your top 10!

    Helene - I used Kirsch again in the special treat day item that Jeff brought into the office today too!

    Jeena - Thanks.

    Ana - it even held over a day quite well too!

  8. I'm all for lightening up I can eat more of them!

  9. MS&S - I so know what you mean!